How a tech start-up is challenging the fashion industry’s record of waste and poor sustainability.
The fashion industry faces significant sustainability challenges. Its business model depends on the constant replacement of old with new clothes and accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. Against a backdrop of urgent action on climate change, the industry looks insane. However, a promising digital innovation could disrupt this model and bring about change that will transform the industry’s approach to sustainability. One such solution, by New York start-up Eon, has already launched; fashion passports.
This isn’t about restyling your travel documents in this season’s colourways but giving every item of new clothing a profile of what it’s made of, when it was made, its name and brand, colour, site of manufacture and price. Every garment then has a ‘digital twin’ in a database and is tracked through its life – making repair, renewal, resale, upcycle and charity donation a breeze.
Each item profile in Eon’s system – which already numbers Closed Loop Partners, H&M Group, Target, PVH Corp, Reflaunt, Save Your Wardrobe and Salvation Army Trading Company among its partners – is known as a Circular ID. The Circular ID is encoded into a machine-readable format such as a QR Code on the label.
With Eon’s digital passport platform, upcyclers can quickly identify a product and get pricing suggestions and even tips on how to sell it. The digital record will include fashion pointers for potential purchasers such as suggestions on how to style and pair the item with other articles of clothing.
The global fashion industry is a waste and pollution behemoth. According to the World Bank, 87% of the fabric in fashion garments ends up being incinerated or sent to landfill – this year that amounts to 54 million tonnes. Unless something is done to make garments’ lifecycles longer, that figure is only going to rise. That’s a lot of chic holes to dig.
Talking to the fashion website WWD, Eon CEO, Natasha Franck outlined the philosophy behind the platform. “At Eon, we think the biggest barrier to a circular economy is product and material identification – if you can’t identify a product, then you can’t resell it.”